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Cost To Become a Pilot: All the Certificates Compared!


When I was researching how I was going to become a pilot it took me months and months to figure out all the details. The cost, the time, which school, heck even which country! It took forever! Learning to fly is a big financial commitment and knowing the costs upfront allows for a solid budget to be created to ensure you have enough funds to fully complete your training.

To help you shorten your research time I created this article comparing all the FAA pilot certificates available.

To learn to fly an airplane the average student will pay around $10,000 for a private pilot certificate and up to $22,000 for a commercial pilot certificate.
For helicopters, the private pilot certificate will cost around $18,000 and up to $28,000 for a commercial pilot certificate.

This data was researched and collected over the space of many weeks with over 30 flight schools contacted across the nation so I could bring you the most accurate and up-to-date average costs for the certificate you wish to pursue.


Be Sure to Check Out the Very End of This Article for a Really Helpful Freebie!


Click on any of the pilot certificates in the table below to jump the specifics of that certificate or scroll down as you wish.

FAA Pilot CertificateMinimum CostAverage Cost
Drone Pilot$450
Sport Pilot$3,800$5,300
Recreational Pilot$5,900$6,100
Private Pilot (FW)$7,200$11,000
Private Pilot (RW)$15,300$22,600
Commercial Pilot (FW) – Part 61
(No Instrument Rating)
$7,400$13,200
Commercial Pilot (FW) – Part 141
(With Instrument Rating)
$25,700$31,000
Commercial Pilot (RW) – Part 61$12,800$19,600
Commercial Pilot (RW) – Part 141$17,700$28,300
Certified Flight Instructor (FW)$5,500$8,200
Certified Flight Instructor (RW)$11,400$13,200
Airline Transport Pilot (FW)$7,200$7,200
Airline Transport Pilot (RW)$9,800$9,800

All the links on this website will direct you to the FAA online Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs).

How Much Does It Cost To Become a Drone Pilot?

On average, it will cost around $450 to become a commercial drone pilot. $300 will be to purchase on online UAV ground training program and $150 to sit the FAA Remote Pilot Certificate written exam. For recreational pilots flying a drone weighing less than 250g, no certificate is required.

The FAA requirements to become a (Remote Pilot Certification) Drone Pilot are:
14 CFR Part107 Subpart C

Minimum Age:16
Any Previous License Required:None
Total Flight Hours Required:0

For those of you that already own an FAA pilot certificate issued under 14 CFR Part61 you are eligible to hold a Remote Pilot Certificate Providing:

For those of you that do not own an FAA pilot certificate issued under 14 CFR Part61 the requirements you must meet are:

Costs:

Flight Training:

There are no formal Flight Training requirements required by the FAA

Ground School or Theory:

An Initial Knowledge Training Course can be completed online for free for most recreational drone pilots, but as a Commerical Drone pilot, you are highly recommended to enroll in a quality training course like Drone Pilot Ground School.
Use Discount Code FLY50 and get $50 off your course!

Average Training Course Cost = $300

Examinations:

Medical Examination = None Required. Can fly with valid Government Identification
Written Examination = $150
Flight Examination = None Required


Total Drone Pilot Costs:

FAA Minimum:
Knowledge Training = $300
Written Examination = $150

Total = $450


How Much Does It Cost To Become a Sport Pilot?

On average it takes a student around 30 hours and $5,000 to gain their Sport pilot certificate. Flight training will cost around $4,000, examinations around $550, ground study material around $100, and $400-$500 of extras like a headset, books, and flight training materials.

The FAA requirements to become a Sport Pilot are:
14 CFR Part61 Subpart J

Minimum Age:17
Any Previous License Required:None
Total Flight Hours Required:20
Dual Hours Required:15
Solo Hours Required:5

Costs:

Flight Training:

20 hours is the minimum required by the FAA, although most students complete the training in around 30 hours. Of the minimum 20 hours, 15 must be with an instructor, and 5 must be solo.

Average Hourly Rate of Light-Sport Aircraft = $100/Hour
Average Hourly Rate of Flight Instructor = $45/Hour

FAA Minimum:
15 hours Dual x ($100+$45) = $2,175
5 hours Solo x $100 = $500

Total = $2,675

Student Average:
25 hours Dual x ($100+$45) = $3,625
5 hours Solo x $100 = $500

Total = $4,125

Ground School or Theory:

There are no minimum hours of ground school set by the FAA. Students can either pay an instructor to teach the theory or pay for an online training course.

Average Ground Instructor Hourly Rate = $45/Hour
Average Sport Pilot DVD/Online Training Course = From $100

Examinations:

Medical Examination = None Required. Can fly with valid US Drivers License
Written Examination = Average $45 (Ranged from $30-$60)
Flight Examination = Average $500 (Flight Examiner Ranged from $400-$600)

Extras:

Most students will require around $500 extras that can consist of:

  • Headset ($300)
  • Books
  • Charts
  • Aircraft Inspection Tools
  • Flight Planning Tools

Total Sport Pilot Costs:

FAA Minimum:
20 Total Hours:

  • 15 hours Dual x ($100+$45) = $2,175
  • 5 hours Solo x $100 = $500
  • Home-Study Theory Training = $100
  • Written Examination = $45
  • Flight Examination = $500
  • Extras = $500

Total = $3,820

Student Average:
30 Hours Total:

  • 25 hours Dual x ($100+$45) = $3,625
  • 5 hours Solo x $100 = $500
  • Home-Study Theory Training = $100
  • Written Examination = $45
  • Flight Examination = $500
  • Extras = $500

Total = $5,270


How Much Does It Cost To Become a Recreational Pilot?

On average it takes a student around 35 hours and $6,200 to gain their Recreational pilot certificate. Flight training will cost around $5,000, examinations around $600, ground study material around $250, and $400-$500 of extras like a headset, books, and flight training materials.

Source: Les Chatfield

The FAA requirements to become a Recreational Pilot are:
14 CFR Part61 Subpart D

Minimum Age:17
Any Previous License Required:Student Pilot or Sport Pilot
Total Flight Hours Required:30
Dual Hours Required:15
Solo Hours Required:3

Costs:

Flight Training:

30 hours is the minimum required by the FAA, although most students complete the training in around 35 hours. Of the minimum 30 hours, 15 must be with an instructor, and 3 must be solo although more hours are usually undertaken.

Average Hourly Rate of Cessna 152 Aircraft = $110/Hour
Average Hourly Rate of Flight Instructor = $45/Hour

FAA Minimum:
27 hours Dual x ($110+$45) = $4,185
3 hours Solo x $110 = $330

Total = $4,515

Student Average:
30 hours Dual x ($110+$45) = $4,650
5 hours Solo x $110 = $550

Total = $5,200

Ground School or Theory:

Students can either pay an instructor to teach the theory and log each lesson or pay for a Home-Study Online Training Course. The Private Pilot Ground study course is recommended for the Recreational Pilot Written Knowledge Test.

Average Ground Instructor Hourly Rate = $45/Hour
Average FW Private Pilot DVD/Online Training Course = From $250

Examinations:

Medical Examination = At least a Third Class Medical Certificate. Average $60 (Ranged from $40-$80) or BasicMed
Written Examination = Average $45 (Ranged from $30-$60)
Flight Examination = Average $500 (Flight Examiner Ranged from $400-$600)

Extras:

Most students will require around $500 extras that can consist of:

  • Headset ($300)
  • Books
  • Charts
  • Aircraft Inspection Tools
  • Flight Planning Tools

Total Recreational Pilot Costs:

FAA Minimum:
30 Total Hours:

  • 27 hours Dual x ($110+$45) = $4,185
  • 3 hours Solo x $110 = $330
  • Home-Study Theory Training = $250
  • Medical Examination = $60
  • Written Examination = $45
  • Flight Examination = $500
  • Extras = $500

Total = $5,870

Student Average:
35 Hours Total:

  • 30 hours Dual x ($110+$45) = $4,650
  • 5 hours Solo x $110 = $550
  • Home-Study Theory Training = $250
  • Medical Examination = $60
  • Written Examination = $45
  • Flight Examination = $500
  • Extras = $500

Total = $6,055


How Much Does It Cost To Become an Airplane Private Pilot?

On average it takes a student around 60 hours and $11,000 to gain their Private airplane pilot certificate. Flight training will cost around $8,800, examinations around $700, ground study training around $1,000, and $400-$500 of extras like a headset, books, and flight training materials.

The FAA requirements to become a Fixed Wing Private Pilot are:
14 CFR Part61 Subpart E §61.109(a)

Minimum Age:17
Any Previous License Required:Student Pilot, Sport Pilot or Recreational Pilot
Total Flight Hours Required:40
Dual Hours Required:20
Solo Hours Required:10

Costs:

Flight Training:

40 hours is the minimum required by the FAA, although most students complete the training in around 60 hours. Of the minimum 40 hours, 20 must be with an instructor, 10 must be solo, and 3 must be at night, although more hours are usually undertaken.

Average Hourly Rate of Cessna 152 Aircraft = $110/Hour
Average Hourly Rate of Flight Instructor = $45/Hour

FAA Minimum:
40 Total:
30 hours Dual x ($110+$45) = $4,650
10 hours Solo x $110 = $1,100

Total = $5,750

Student Average:
60 Total:
50 hours Dual x ($110+$45) = $7,750
10 hours Solo x $110 = $1,100

Total = $8,850

Ground School or Theory:

All students will require between 10-20 hours of one-on-one ground school with an instructor to cover aspects of flight, maneuvers, emergency procedures, etc. This ground is to prepare the student for the Practical Flight Examination (Checkride).
In addition, the student will need to complete some form of Home-Study course to prepare them for the Knowledge Written Examination.

Average Ground Instructor Hourly Rate = $45/Hour
Average FW Private Pilot DVD/Online Training Course = From $250

Examinations:

Medical Examination = At least a Third Class Medical Certificate. Average $60 (Ranged from $40-$80) or BasicMed
Written Examination = Average $150 (Ranged from $140-$175)
Flight Examination = Average $500 (Flight Examiner Ranged from $400-$600)

Extras:

Most students will require around $500 extras that can consist of:

  • Headset ($300)
  • Books
  • Charts
  • Aircraft Inspection Tools
  • Flight Planning Tools

Total Private Pilot – FW Costs:

FAA Minimum:
40 Hours Total:

  • 30 hours Dual x ($110+$45) = $4,650
  • 10 hours Solo x $110 = $1,100
  • Home-Study Theory Training = $250
  • Medical Examination = $60
  • Written Examination = $150
  • Flight Examination = $500
  • Extras = $500

Total = $7,210

Student Average:
60 hours Total:

  • 50 hours Dual x ($110+$45) = $7,750
  • 10 hours Solo x $110 = $1,100
  • 15 hours One-On-One Ground Training x $45 = $675
  • Home-Study Theory Training = $250
  • Medical Examination = $60
  • Written Examination = $150
  • Flight Examination = $500
  • Extras = $500

Total = $10,985


How Much Does It Cost To Become a Helicopter Private Pilot?

On average it takes a student around 60 hours and $23,000 to gain their Private helicopter pilot certificate. Flight training will cost around $20,000, examinations around $1,150, ground study training around $1,200, and $400-$500 of extras like a headset, books, and flight training materials.

The FAA requirements to become a RW (Helicopter) Private Pilot are:
14 CFR Part61 Subpart E §61.109(c)

Minimum Age:17
Any Previous License Required:Student Pilot, Sport Pilot or Recreational Pilot
Total Flight Hours Required:40
Dual Hours Required:20
Solo Hours Required:10

Costs:

Flight Training:

40 hours is the minimum required by the FAA, although most students complete the training in around 60 hours. Of the minimum 40 hours, 20 must be with an instructor, 10 must be solo, and 3 must be at night, although more hours are usually undertaken.

Average Hourly Rate of Robinson R22 Helicopter = $300/Hour
Average Hourly Rate of Flight Instructor = $45/Hour

FAA Minimum:
40 Total:
30 hours Dual x ($300+$45) = $10,350
10 hours Solo x $300 = $3,000

Total = $13,350

Student Average:
60 Total:
50 hours Dual x ($300+$45) = $17,250
10 hours Solo x $300 = $3,000

Total = $20,250

Ground School or Theory:

All students will require between 15-30 hours of one-on-one ground school with an instructor to cover aspects of aerodynamics, flight, maneuvers, emergency procedures, etc. This ground is to prepare the student for the Practical Flight Examination (Checkride).
In addition, the student will need to complete some form of Home-Study course to prepare them for the Knowledge Written Examination.

Average Ground Instructor Hourly Rate = $45/Hour
Average RW Private Pilot DVD/Online Training Course = From $250

Examinations:

Medical Examination = At least a Third Class Medical Certificate. Average $60 (Ranged from $40-$80) or BasicMed
Written Examination = Average $150 (Ranged from $140-$175)
Flight Examination = Average $950 (Flight Examiner Ranged from $400-$600) + 1.5 Hours R22 Rental

Extras:

Most students will require around $500 extras that can consist of:

  • Headset ($300)
  • Books
  • Charts
  • Aircraft Inspection Tools
  • Flight Planning Tools

Total Private Pilot – RW Costs:

FAA Minimum:
40 Hours Total:

  • 30 hours Dual x ($300+$45) = $10,350
  • 10 hours Solo x $300 = $3,000
  • Home-Study Theory Training = $250
  • Medical Examination = $60
  • Written Examination = $150
  • Flight Examination = $950
  • Extras = $500

Total = $15,260

Student Average:
60 hours Total:

  • 50 hours Dual x ($300+$45) = $17,250
  • 10 hours Solo x $300 = $3,000
  • 20 hours One-On-One Ground Training x $45 = $900
  • Home-Study Theory Training = $250
  • Medical Examination = $60
  • Written Examination = $150
  • Flight Examination = $950
  • Extras = $500

Total = $22,560


How Much Does It Cost To Become a Commercial Airplane Pilot?

On average it takes a student around 60 hours and $13,000 to gain their Part 61 Commercial airplane pilot certificate or 130 hours and $31,000 to gain their Part 141 Commercial airplane pilot certificate. This is in addition to the private pilot certificate and any hour building required.

To become a commercial fixed-wing pilot there are two training options with differing requirements from the FAA:

Part 61 and Part 141:-

Part 61 Training Route – This is designed for pilots requiring a flexible, non-classroom-based type of training. The training can be tailored to suit the student and does not have any stage checks or time requirements to complete the training. Because of its flexibility, the FAA requires higher training requirements.

This is a perfect route for those who may have been flying for years and then decide they wish to move into aviation as a career.

Part 141 Training Route – This is designed for students seeking a career in aviation. It is a structured program designed to efficiently move the student through training. The school has to be Part 141 certified with both the facilities and training curriculum meeting that certification. Because the course is structured and has a set timeframe the FAA required lower training requirements.

This is a perfect route for students going from zero flight time and utilizes the time requirements from passing the Private Pilot Certificate for gaining an Instrument Rating and or Multi-Engine Rating.

Part 61 FW Commercial Pilot Training

The FAA requirements to become a FW Commercial Pilot are:
14 CFR Part61 Subpart F

Minimum Age:18
Any Previous License Required:Private Pilot
Total Flight Hours Required:250
Dual Hours Required:20
Solo Hours Required:10

Costs:

Flight Training:

The FAA requires the applicant for a Part 61 Commercial FW Certificate to have gained 250 hours of flight time before applying for the Commercial Flight Test. This section does not take into account the hour building required to be undertaken to meet the starting point of the Commercial Training.

Since completing the Private Pilot Certificate the hours flown to meet that 250 hour requirement can have been done however the applicant wishes, but must have met the following requirements:

  • 100 hours in powered aircraft, of which 50 hours must be in airplanes.
  • 100 hours of pilot-in-command flight time, which includes at least:
    • 50 hours in airplanes; and
    • 50 hours in cross-country flight of which at least 10 hours must be in airplanes to include:
      • 1x 2 hour day-time cross-country flight of at least 100nm from point of departure
      • 1x 2 hour night-time cross-country flight of at least 100nm from point of departure
  • 10 hours in a Complex or Technically Advanced Airplane (TAA)-[AOPA Link]
  • 10 hours of instrument training of which: 5 hours in a single-engine airplane
  • 10 hours of solo flight or acting PIC with an instructor on-board to include:
    • 1 cross-country flight of at least 300nm with 3 separate landings
    • 5 hours of night VFR in airport traffic pattern with 10 take-offs & landings
  • 3 hours of dual instruction within the preceding 2 months of the Practical Flight Test

After meeting the above requirements, the chances of getting a job as a commercial pilot will be near impossible, unless it is for your own purposes as a local business for example.

Most commercial operators will require an Instrument Rating which most pilots undertake during the ‘Hour Building’ period between completing their PPL and starting the CPL training.


Without an Instrument Rating a Commerical FW pilot is limited to the following restrictions outlined in §61.133(b)(1):

  • Unable to carry passengers for hire at night
  • Unable to carry passengers for hire further than 50nm from home airport

Average Hourly Rate of Cessna 172 = $135/Hour
Average Hourly Rate of Complex/TAA Aircraft = $170/Hour
Average Hourly Rate of Flight Instructor = $45/Hour

FAA Minimum:
33 Total:
10 hours Dual Instrument x ($135+$45) = $1,800
10 hours Dual Complex or TAA Aircraft x ($170+$45) = $2,150
10 hours Solo x $135 = $1,350
3 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($135+$45) = $540

Total = $5,840

Student Average:
60 Total:
25 hours Dual Instruction x ($135+$45) = $4,500
10 hours Dual Instrument x ($135+$45) = $1,800
10 hours Dual Complex or TAA Aircraft x ($170+$45) = $2,150
10 hours Solo x $135 = $1,350
5 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($135+$45) = $900

Total = $10,700

Ground School or Theory:

The FAA Part61 Commerical FW Certificate does not require any formal ground training. The applicant just has to meet the knowledge requirements to pass the Knowledge Written Exam and the Oral portion of the Practical flight test. This can be completed via a Home-Study Ground Course and with some one-to-one instruction from a flying instructor.

Average Ground Instructor Hourly Rate = $45/Hour
Average FW Commercial Pilot DVD/Online Training Course = From $180

Examinations:

Medical Examination = At least a Second Class Medical Certificate. Average $110 (Ranged from $70-$150)
Written Examination = Average $150 (Ranged from $140-$175)
Flight Examination = Average $650 (Flight Examiner Ranged from $400-$600) + 1.5 Hours Cessna 172 Rental

Extras:

Most students will require around $500 extras that can consist of:

  • Books & Manuals
  • Charts & Checklists
  • Flight Planning Tools

Total Part 61 Commercial Pilot – FW Costs:

FAA Minimum:
33 Hours Total:

  • 10 hours Dual Instrument x ($135+$45) = $1,800
  • 10 hours Dual Complex or TAA Aircraft x ($170+$45) = $2,150
  • 10 hours Solo x $135 = $1,350
  • 3 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($135+$45) = $540
  • Home-Study Theory Training = $180
  • Medical Examination = $110
  • Written Examination = $150
  • Flight Examination = $650
  • Extras = $500

Total = $7,430

Student Average:
60 hours Total:

  • 25 hours Dual Instruction x ($135+$45) = $4,500
  • 10 hours Dual Instrument x ($135+$45) = $1,800
  • 10 hours Dual Complex or TAA Aircraft x ($170+$45) = $2,150
  • 10 hours Solo x $135 = $1,350
  • 5 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($135+$45) = $900
  • 20 hours One-On-One Ground Training x $45 = $900
  • Home-Study Theory Training = $180
  • Medical Examination = $110
  • Written Examination = $150
  • Flight Examination = $650
  • Extras = $500

Total = $13,190


Part 141 FW Commercial Pilot Training

The FAA requirements to become a FW Commercial Pilot are:
14 CFR Part141 Appendix D

Minimum Age:18
Any Previous License Required:Private Pilot
Total Flight Hours Required:120
Dual Hours Required:55
Solo Hours Required:10
Ground Hours Required:35

Costs:

Flight Training:

The FAA requires a student enrolled in a Part 141 FW Commercial Training program to have already received an Instrument Rating prior to enrollement or can be enrolled in an Instrument Rating as part of the training curriculum.

The Part 141 FW Commercial Training Program Consists of:

Part 141 Appendix C – Instrument Rating

  • 30 hours of instrument ground school
  • 35 hours of dual flight instruction
  • IFR Stage Checks
  • IFR Checkride

Part141 Appendix D – Commercial Training

  • 120 hours in powered aircraft, of which 50 hours must be in airplanes.
  • 55 hours of dual flight instruction, which includes at least:
    • 10 hours of instrument training of which:
      • 5 hours in a single-engine airplane (Completed during IFR Training)
    • 10 hours in a Complex or Technically Advanced Airplane (TAA)-[AOPA Link]
    • 1x 2 hour day-time cross-country flight of at least 100nm from point of departure
    • 1x 2 hour night-time cross-country flight of at least 100nm from point of departure
  • 10 hours of solo flight or acting PIC with an instructor on-board to include:
    • 1 cross-country flight of at least 300nm with 3 separate landings
    • 5 hours of night VFR in airport traffic pattern with 10 take-offs & landings
  • 3 hours of dual instruction within the preceding 2 months of the Practical Flight Test

Average Hourly Rate of Cessna 172 = $135/Hour
Average Hourly Rate of Complex/TAA Aircraft = $170/Hour
Average Hourly Rate of Flight Instructor = $45/Hour

FAA Minimum:
120 Total:
55 hours Dual Instruction x ($135+$45) = $9,900
35 hours Dual Instrument x ($135+$45) = $6,300
10 hours Dual Complex or TAA Aircraft x ($170+$45) = $2,150
10 hours Solo x $135 = $1,350
3 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($135+$45) = $540

Total = $20,240

Student Average:
131 Total:
65 hours Dual Instruction x ($135+$45) = $11,700
40 hours Dual Instrument x ($135+$45) = $7,200
10 hours Dual Complex or TAA Aircraft x ($170+$45) = $2,150
10 hours Solo x $135 = $1,350
6 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($135+$45) = $1,080

Total = $23,480

Ground School or Theory:

The Part 141 FW Commerical training program consists of the following Ground School requirements:

Instrument Rating = 30 hours Dual Instruction
Commercial Certificate = 35 hours Dual Instruction

Most students will also purchase Home-Based Theory study material for both the Instrument rating & Commercial certificate.

Average Ground Instructor Hourly Rate = $45/Hour
Average Instrument DVD/Online Training Course = From $150
Average FW Commercial Pilot DVD/Online Training Course = From $180
Average FW Commercial Pilot & Instrument Combo DVD/Online Training Course = From $275

Examinations:

Medical Examination = At least a Second Class Medical Certificate. Average $110 (Ranged from $70-$150)
IFR Written Examination = Average $150 (Ranged from $140-$175)
IFR Flight Examination = Average $620 (Flight Examiner Ranged from $400-$600) + 1 Hour Cessna 172 Rental
CPL Written Examination = Average $150 (Ranged from $140-$175)
CPL Flight Examination = Average $650 (Flight Examiner Ranged from $400-$600) + 1.5 Hours Cessna 172 Rental

Extras:

Most students will require around $1000 extras that can consist of:

  • Books & Manuals
  • Online Training Materials
  • Charts, Procedures & Checklists
  • Flight Planning Tools

Total Part 141 Commercial Pilot – FW Costs:

FAA Minimum:
120 Hours Total:

  • 55 hours Dual Instruction x ($135+$45) = $9,900
  • 35 hours Dual Instrument x ($135+$45) = $6,300
  • 10 hours Dual Complex or TAA Aircraft x ($170+$45) = $2,150
  • 10 hours Solo x $135 = $1,350
  • 3 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($135+$45) = $540
  • 30 hours Dual Instrument Ground x $45 = $1,350
  • 35 hours Dual Commercial Ground x $45 = $1,575
  • Medical Examination = $110
  • IFR Written Examination = $150
  • COM Written Examination = $150
  • IFR Flight Examination = $620
  • COM Flight Examination = $650
  • Extras = $1000

Total = $25,695

Student Average:
130 hours Total:

  • 65 hours Dual Instruction x ($135+$45) = $11,700
  • 40 hours Dual Instrument x ($135+$45) = $7,200
  • 10 hours Dual Complex or TAA Aircraft x ($170+$45) = $2,150
  • 10 hours Solo x $135 = $1,350
  • 6 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($135+$45) = $1,080
  • 50 hours Dual Instrument Ground x $45 = $2,250
  • 50 hours Dual Commercial Ground x $45 = $2,250
  • Home-Study Theory Training = $275
  • Medical Examination = $110
  • IFR Written Examination = $150
  • COM Written Examination = $150
  • IFR Flight Examination = $620
  • COM Flight Examination = $650
  • Extras = $1000

Total = $30,935

NOTE:

You may be looking at the total prices for the Part 61 and Part 141 courses and wondering why the Part 61 is cheaper. The thing you have to remember here is that to apply for a Commercial FW checkride (Flight Test) you need to have a minimum number of hours:

250 Total Hours for Part 61
vs
120 Total Hours for Part 141

Let’s say you passed your Private Pilot Certificate at 60 hours, you have to fly/train for a further 190 hours before being eligible for a Part 61 COM checkride, or

You take the approved Part 141 training course, you only have to fly/train a further 60 hours, which will be mostly training for your commercial flight test anyway!

So even though the Part 141 course itself may seem to cost more than the Part 61 course, you pay less for the hour building required before hand because of the reduced hours needed before applying for the COM checkride.


How Much Does It Cost To Become a Commercial Helicpoter Pilot?

On average it takes a student around 50 hours and $20,000 to gain their Part 61 Commercial helicopter pilot certificate or 130 hours and $28,000 to gain their Part 141 Commercial helicopter pilot certificate. This is in addition to the private pilot certificate and any hour building required.

Just like their fixed-winged counterparts, becoming a commercial rotary-wing pilot there are two training options with differing requirements from the FAA:

Part 61 and Part 141:-

Part 61 Training Route – This is designed for pilots requiring a flexible, non-classroom-based type of training. The training can be tailored to suit the student and does not have any stage checks or time requirements to complete the training. Because of its flexibility, the FAA requires higher training requirements.

This is a perfect route for those who may have been flying for years and then decide they wish to move into aviation as a career, or for those pilots coming from a fixed-wing background who wish to transition over.

Part 141 Training Route – This is designed for students seeking a career in aviation. It is a structured program designed to efficiently move the student through training. The school has to be Part 141 certified with both the facilities and training curriculum meeting that certification. Because the course is structured and has a set timeframe the FAA required lower training requirements.

This is a perfect route for students going from zero flight time and utilizes the time requirements from passing the Private Pilot Certificate for gaining an Instrument Rating if looking to fly offshore or become a Certified Flight Instructor Instruments (CFII).

Part 61 RW Commercial Pilot Training

The FAA requirements to become a RW Commercial Pilot are:
14 CFR Part61 Subpart F

Minimum Age:18
Any Previous License Required:Private Pilot
Total Flight Hours Required:150
Dual Hours Required:20
Solo Hours Required:10

Costs:

Flight Training:

The FAA requires the applicant for a Part 61 Commercial RW Certificate to have gained 150 hours of flight time before applying for the Commercial Flight Test. This section does not take into account the hour building required to be undertaken to meet the starting point of the Commercial Training.

Since completing the Private Pilot Certificate the hours flown to meet that 150 hour requirement can have been done however the applicant wishes, but must have met the following requirements:

  • 100 hours in powered aircraft, of which 50 hours must be in helicopters
  • 100 hours of pilot-in-command flight time, which includes at least:
    • 35 hours in helicopters; and
    • 10 hours in cross-country flight in helicopters
  • 20 hours of dual training of which:
    • 5 hours of instrument training in helicopters
    • 1x 2 hour day-time cross-country flight of at least 50nm from point of departure
    • 1x 2 hour night-time cross-country flight of at least 50nm from point of departure
  • 10 hours of solo flight or acting PIC with an instructor on-board to include:
    • 1 cross-country flight of at with one segment at least 50nm with 3 separate landings
    • 5 hours of night VFR in airport traffic pattern with 10 take-offs & landings
  • 3 hours of dual instruction within the preceding 2 months of the Practical Flight Test

Average Hourly Rate of a Robinson R22 Helicopter = $300/Hour
Average Hourly Rate of Flight Instructor = $45/Hour

FAA Minimum:
33 Total:
20 hours Dual Instruction x ($300+$45) = $6,900
10 hours Solo x $300 = $3,000
3 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($300+$45) = $1,035

Total = $10,935

Student Average:
50 Total:
35 hours Dual Instruction x ($300+$45) = $12,075
10 hours Solo x $300 = $3000
5 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($300+$45) = $1,725

Total = $16,800

Ground School or Theory:

The FAA Part61 Commerical RW Certificate does not require any formal ground training. The applicant just has to meet the knowledge requirements to pass the Aeronautical Knowledge Written Exam and the Oral portion of the Practical flight test. This can be completed via a Home-Study Ground Course and with some one-to-one instruction from a flying instructor.

Average Ground Instructor Hourly Rate = $45/Hour
Average RW Commercial Pilot DVD/Online Training Course = From $180

Examinations:

Medical Examination = At least a Second Class Medical Certificate. Average $110 (Ranged from $70-$150)
Written Examination = Average $150 (Ranged from $140-$175)
Flight Examination = Average $950 (Flight Examiner Ranged from $400-$600) + 1.5 Hours Robinson R22 Rental

Extras:

Most students will require around $500 extras that can consist of:

  • Books & Manuals
  • Charts & Checklists
  • Flight Planning Tools

Total Part 61 Commercial Pilot – RW Costs:

FAA Minimum:
33 Hours Total:

  • 20 hours Dual Instruction x ($300+$45) = $6,900
  • 10 hours Solo x $300 = $3,000
  • 3 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($300+$45) = $1,035
  • Home-Study Theory Training = $180
  • Medical Examination = $110
  • Written Examination = $150
  • Flight Examination = $950
  • Extras = $500

Total = $12,825

Student Average:
50 hours Total:

  • 35 hours Dual Instruction x ($300+$45) = $12,075
  • 10 hours Solo x $300 = $3000
  • 5 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($300+$45) = $1,725
  • 20 hours One-On-One Ground Training x $45 = $900
  • Home-Study Theory Training = $180
  • Medical Examination = $110
  • Written Examination = $150
  • Flight Examination = $950
  • Extras = $500

Total = $19,590


Part 141 RW Commercial Pilot Training

The FAA requirements to become a RW Commercial Pilot are:
14 CFR Part141 Appendix D

Minimum Age:18
Any Previous License Required:Private Pilot
Total Flight Hours Required:115
Dual Hours Required:30
Solo Hours Required:10
Ground Hours Required:30

Costs:

Flight Training:

The FAA requires the applicant for a Part 141 Commercial RW Certificate to have gained 115 hours of flight time before applying for the Commercial Flight Test. This section does not take into account the hour building required to be undertaken to meet the starting point of the Commercial Training.

The Part 141 RW Commercial Training Program Consists of:

  • 115 hours in helicopters
  • 30 hours of dual flight instruction, which includes at least:
    • 5 hours of instrument training in helicopters
    • 1x 2 hour day-time cross-country flight with one segment at least 50nm from point of departure
    • 1x 2 hour night-time cross-country flight with one segment at least 50nm from point of departure
  • 10 hours of solo flight or acting PIC with an instructor on-board to include:
    • 1 cross-country flight with one segment at least 50nm with 3 separate landings
    • 5 hours of night VFR in airport traffic pattern with 10 take-offs & landings
  • 3 hours of dual instruction within the preceding 2 months of the Practical Flight Test

Average Hourly Rate of a Robinson R22 Helicopter = $300/Hour
Average Hourly Rate of Flight Instructor = $45/Hour

FAA Minimum:
115 Total:
30 hours Dual Instruction x ($300+$45) = $10,350
10 hours Solo x $300 = $3000
3 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($300+$45) = $1,035

Total = $14,385

Student Average:
130 Total:
55 hours Dual Instruction x ($300+$45) = $18,975
10 hours Solo x $300 = $3000
6 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($300+$45) = $2,070

Total = $24,045

Ground School or Theory:

The Part 141 FW Commerical training program requires 30 hours of Dual Ground Instruction. Most students will also purchase a Home-Based Theory study material for the Commercial certificate.

Average Ground Instructor Hourly Rate = $45/Hour
Average RW Commercial Pilot DVD/Online Training Course = From $180

Examinations:

Medical Examination = At least a Second Class Medical Certificate. Average $110 (Ranged from $70-$150)
Written Examination = Average $150 (Ranged from $140-$175)
Flight Examination = Average $950 (Flight Examiner Ranged from $400-$600) + 1.5 Hours Robinson R22 Rental

Extras:

Most students will require around $500 extras that can consist of:

  • Books & Manuals
  • Online Training Materials
  • Charts & Checklists
  • Flight Planning Tools

Total Part 141 Commercial Pilot – RW Costs:

FAA Minimum:
115 Hours Total:

  • 30 hours Dual Instruction x ($300+$45) = $10,350
  • 10 hours Solo x $300 = $3000
  • 3 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($300+$45) = $1,035
  • 30 hours Dual Commercial Ground x $45 = $1,575
  • Medical Examination = $110
  • Written Examination = $150
  • Flight Examination = $950
  • Extras = $500

Total = $17,670

Student Average:
130 hours Total:

  • 55 hours Dual Instruction x ($300+$45) = $18,975
  • 10 hours Solo x $300 = $3000
  • 6 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($300+$45) = $2,070
  • 50 hours Dual Commercial Ground x $45 = $2,250
  • Home-Study Theory Training = $275
  • Medical Examination = $110
  • Written Examination = $150
  • Flight Examination = $950
  • Extras = $500

Total = $28,280

NOTE:

You may be looking at the total prices for the Part 61 and Part 141 courses and wondering why the Part 61 is cheaper. The thing you have to remember here is that to apply for a Commercial RW checkride (Flight Test) you need to have a minimum number of hours:

150 Total Hours for Part 61
vs
115 Total Hours for Part 141

Let’s say you passed your Private Pilot Certificate at 60 hours, you have to fly/train for a further 90 hours before being eligible for a Part 61 COM checkride, or

You take the approved Part 141 training course, you only have to fly/train a further 55 hours, which will be mostly training for your commercial flight test anyway!

So even though the Part 141 course itself may seem to cost more than the Part 61 course, you pay less for the hour building required before hand because of the reduced hours needed before applying for the COM checkride.


How Much Does It Cost To Become a Certified Airplane Flight Instructor?

On average it takes a student around 30 hours and $8,200 to gain their airplane instructor rating. Flight training will cost around $5,400, examinations around $800, ground study training around $1,800, and $200 of extras like books, and flight training materials.

The FAA requirements to become a Part 141 Certified Flight Instructor FW Pilot are:
14 CFR Part141 Appendix F

Minimum Age:18
Any Previous License Required:Commercial or ATP
Total Flight Hours Required:25
Dual Hours Required:25
Solo Hours Required:0
Ground Hours Required:40

Costs:

Flight Training:

The FAA requires the applicant for a Part 141 Certified Flight Instructor Certificate to have gained a Commercial FW Certificate or an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate FW.

Average Hourly Rate of Cessna 172 = $135/Hour
Average Hourly Rate of Flight Instructor = $45/Hour

FAA Minimum:
25 Total:
25 hours Dual Instruction x (135+$45) = $4,500

Total = $4,500

Student Average:
30 Total:
28 hours Dual Instruction x ($135+$45) = $5,040
2 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($135+$45) = $360

Total = $5,400

Ground School or Theory:

The Part 141 FW CFI training program requires 40 hours of Classroom-Based or One-On-One Ground Instruction to include:

  • Fundamentals of Instruction (FOI)
  • Aeronautical Knowledge

Average Ground Instructor Hourly Rate = $45/Hour

Examinations:

FOI Written Examination = Average $150 (Ranged from $125-$175)
CFI Written Examination = Average $150 (Ranged from $125-$175)
Flight Examination = Average $500 (Flight Examiner Ranged from $400-$600)

Extras:

Most students will require around $200 extras that can consist of:

  • Books & Manuals
  • Online Training Materials

Certified Flight Instructor – FW Costs:

FAA Minimum:
25 Hours Total:

  • 25 hours Dual Instruction x ($135+$45) = $4,500
  • 40 hours Dual Instructor Ground x $45 = $1,800
  • FOI Written Examination = $150
  • CFI Written Examination = $150
  • Flight Examination = $500
  • Extras = $200

Total = $5,500

Student Average:
30 hours Total:

  • 28 hours Dual Instruction x ($135+$45) = $5,040
  • 2 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($135+$45) = $360
  • 40 hours Dual Instructor Ground x $45 = $1,800
  • FOI Written Examination = $150
  • CFI Written Examination = $150
  • Flight Examination = $500
  • Extras = $200

Total = $8,200

NOTE:
Most students will add additional ratings to their Flight Instructor Certificate to achieve greater levels of employability. The most common ratings are:

  • Instrument – Certified Flight Instructor Instruments (CFII)
  • Multi-Engine – Multi-Engine Instructor (MEI)

How Much Does It Cost To Become a Certified Helicopter Flight Instructor?

On average it takes a student around 30 hours and $13,000 to gain their helicopter instructor rating. Flight training will cost around $9,400, examinations around $800, ground study training around $1,800, and $200 of extras like books, and flight training materials.

The FAA requirements to become a Part 141 Certified Flight Instructor RW Pilot are:
14 CFR Part141 Appendix F

Minimum Age:18
Any Previous License Required:Commercial or ATPL
Total Flight Hours Required:25
Dual Hours Required:25
Solo Hours Required:0
Ground Hours Required:40

Costs:

Flight Training:

The FAA requires the applicant for a Part 141 Certified Flight Instructor Certificate to have gained a Commercial RW Certificate or an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate RW.

Average Hourly Rate of Robinson R22 = $300/Hour
Average Hourly Rate of Flight Instructor = $45/Hour

FAA Minimum:
25 Total:
25 hours Dual Instruction x ($300+$45) = $8,625

Total = $8,625

Student Average:
30 Total:
28 hours Dual Instruction x ($300+$45) = $9,660
2 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($300+$45) = $690

Total = $10,350

Ground School or Theory:

The Part 141 RW CFI training program requires 40 hours of Classroom-Based or One-On-One Ground Instruction to include:

  • Fundamentals of Instruction (FOI)
  • Aeronautical Knowledge

Average Ground Instructor Hourly Rate = $45/Hour

Examinations:

FOI Written Examination = Average $150 (Ranged from $125-$175)
CFI Written Examination = Average $150 (Ranged from $125-$175)
Flight Examination = Average $950 (Flight Examiner Ranged from $400-$600)

Extras:

Most students will require around $200 extras that can consist of:

  • Books & Manuals
  • Online Training Materials

Certified Flight Instructor – RW Costs:

FAA Minimum:
25 Hours Total:

  • 25 hours Dual Instruction x ($300+$45) = $8,625
  • 40 hours Dual Instructor Ground x $45 = $1,800
  • FOI Written Examination = $150
  • CFI Written Examination = $150
  • Flight Examination = $500
  • Extras = $200

Total = $11,425

Student Average:
30 hours Total:

  • 28 hours Dual Instruction x ($300+$45) = $9,660
  • 2 hours Dual Flight Test Prep x ($300+$45) = $690
  • 40 hours Dual Instructor Ground x $45 = $1,800
  • FOI Written Examination = $150
  • CFI Written Examination = $150
  • Flight Examination = $500
  • Extras = $200

Total = $13,150

NOTE:
Most students will add the Instrument Rating to their Flight Instructor Certificate to become a Certified Flight Instructor Instruments (CFII) to achieve greater levels of employability.


How Much Does It Cost To Get an Airplane Airline Transport Pilot – ATP(FW)?

On average it takes a student around 25 hours and $7,000 to gain their airplane airline transport pilot certificate. Flight training will cost around $4,500, examinations around $700, ground study training around $1,800, and $200 of extras like books, and flight training materials.

The FAA requirements to become a Part 141 Airline Transport Pilot FW Pilot are:
14 CFR Part141 Appendix E

Minimum Age:21 for Restricted ATP
23 for Unrestricted ATP
Medical Class Required:First Class
Any Previous License Required:Commercial with Instrument Rating
Total Flight Hours Required:750 for Restricted Veteran ATP
1000 for Restricted ATP
1500 for Unrestricted ATP
Dual Hours Required:25
Instrument Hours Required:15
Ground Hours Required:40

The FAA requires the applicant for a Part 141 Airline Transport Pilot Certificate to have gained a Commercial FW Certificate with an Instrument Rating and have met the following requirements to either qualify for a Restricted ATP or an Unrestricted ATP:

Restricted ATP – Min 750 Hours:

14CFR §61.160(a)
A U.S. Military or former U.S. Military pilot with an airplane category multi-engine class rating.

Restricted ATP – Min 1000 Hours:

14CFR §61.160(b)

  • A pilot who holds a Bachelor’s degree with an aviation major from an institution of higher education
  • Has completed 60 semester credit hours of aviation and aviation-related coursework
  • Has completed the Ground & Flight training as part of an approved part 141 curriculum at the institution of higher education
Restricted ATP – Min 1250 Hours:

14CFR §61.160(c)

  • A pilot who holds an Associates degree with an aviation major from an institution of higher education
  • Has completed 30 semester credit hours of aviation and aviation-related coursework
  • Has completed the Ground & Flight training as part of an approved part 141 curriculum at the institution of higher education

A pilot may fly only as a Co-Pilot to be able to gain the required experience until they fulfill the requirements for an Unrestricted ATP Certificate:

Unrestricted ATP – Min 1500 Hours:

14CFR §61.159

  • 1500 Hours Total Time, that includes:
    • 500 hours of cross-country
    • 100 hours of night
    • 50 hours in the same class of airplane, of which:
      • 25 hours maximum in a full flight simulator
    • 75 hours of instrument
    • 250 hours PIC, that includes:
      • 100 hours of cross-country PIC
      • 25 hours of night PIC

Costs:

Flight Training:

25 dual flight hours are the minimum required by the FAA for the Part 141 ATP Certificate with most students experienced and able to complete the training in that time frame. Of the minimum 25 hours, 15 must be instrument training.

Average Hourly Rate of Cessna 172 = $135/Hour
Average Hourly Rate of Flight Instructor = $45/Hour

FAA Minimum & Student Average:
25 Total:
15 hours Dual Instruction x ($135+$45) = $2,700
10 hours Dual Instrument x ($135+$45) = 1,800

Total = $4,500

Ground School or Theory:

The Part 141 FW ATP training program requires 40 hours of Classroom-Based or One-On-One Ground Instruction.

Average Ground Instructor Hourly Rate = $45/Hour

Examinations:

Written Examination = Average $150 (Ranged from $125-$175)
Flight Examination = Average $500 (Flight Examiner Ranged from $400-$600)

Extras:

Most students will require around $200 extras that can consist of:

  • Books & Manuals
  • Online Training Materials

Airline Transport Pilot – FW Costs:

FAA Minimum & Student Average:
25 Hours Total:

  • 15 hours Dual Instruction x ($135+$45) = $2,700
  • 10 hours Dual Instrument x ($135+$45) = $1,800
  • 40 hours Dual Ground x $45 = $1,800
  • Written Examination = $150
  • Flight Examination = $500
  • Extras = $200

Total = $7,150


How Much Does It Cost To Get a Helicopter Airline Transport Pilot Certificate – ATP(H)?

On average it takes a student around 25 hours and $9,800 to gain their helicopter airline transport pilot certificate. Flight training will cost around $7,500, examinations around $950, ground study training around $1,800, and $200 of extras like books, and flight training materials.

The FAA requirements to become a Part 141 Airline Transport Pilot RW Pilot are:
14 CFR Part141 Appendix E

Minimum Age:23
Medical Class Required:First Class
Any Previous License Required:Commercial with Instrument Rating
Total Flight Hours Required:1200
Dual Hours Required:25
Instrument Hours Required:15
Ground Hours Required:40

The FAA requires the applicant for a Part 141 Airline Transport Pilot Certificate to have gained a Commercial RW Certificate with an Instrument Rating and have met the following requirements:

14CFR §61.161

  • 1200 Hours Total Time, that includes:
    • 500 hours of cross-country
    • 100 hours of night, that includes:
      • 15 hours in helicopters
    • 200 hours in helicopters, that includes:
      • 75 hours PIC or PICUS
    • 75 hours of instrument, that includes:
      • 50 hours obtained in flight, &
      • 15 hours in helicopters PIC or PICUS

Costs:

Flight Training:

25 dual flight hours are the minimum required by the FAA for the Part 141 ATP Certificate with most students experienced and able to complete the training in that time frame. Of the minimum 25 hours, 15 must be instrument training.

Average Hourly Rate of Robinson R22 = $300/Hour
Average Hourly Rate of Robinson R22 Simulator = $200/Hour
Average Hourly Rate of Flight Instructor = $45/Hour

FAA Minimum & Student Average:
25 Total:
15 hours Dual Instruction x ($300+$45) = $5,175
10 hours Dual Sim Instrument x ($200+$45) = 2,450

Total = $7,625

Ground School or Theory:

The Part 141 RW ATP training program requires 40 hours of Classroom-Based or One-On-One Ground Instruction.

Average Ground Instructor Hourly Rate = $45/Hour

Examinations:

Written Examination = Average $150 (Ranged from $125-$175)
Flight Examination = Average $800 (Flight Examiner Ranged from $400-$600) + 1.5 hours Robinson R22 Simulator

Extras:

Most students will require around $200 extras that can consist of:

  • Books & Manuals
  • Online Training Materials

Airline Transport Pilot – RW Costs:

FAA Minimum & Student Average:
25 Hours Total:

  • 15 hours Dual Instruction x ($300+$45) = $5,175
  • 10 hours Dual Sim Instrument x ($200+$45) = $2,450
  • 40 hours Dual Commercial Ground x $45 = $1,800
  • Written Examination = $150
  • Flight Examination = $800
  • Extras = $200

Total = $9,775


Additional Costs & Information

Many flight schools offer Professional Pilot Programs to take a pilot from 0 hours to a working CFI position in an efficient, cost-effective way. These are a great way to get the best deal when training for a career. Each school’s program is different from different costs, hours, and training material so research into each program is essential.

There can also be so many factors that affect the costs of learning to fly so here is a list of things you may need to think about and ask when you begin your search for a flight school:

  • Aircraft Wet/Dry Rates
  • Pre/Post Flight Costs
  • School Membership Costs
  • Variable Aircraft Rental Costs
  • Variable Instructor Costs
  • Mandatory Course Materials
  • Stage Check Costs
  • Variable Medical & Examiner Costs
  • Checkride Aircraft Cost
  • IFR Aircraft Cost
  • Accommodation
  • Living Expenses
  • Mandatory Insurance

To Finish

Becoming a pilot is not a cheap affair and many schools like to show the FAA bare minimums as their pricing structure and I have seen many a student caught out by this.

As you have seen there are so many factors that can affect the prices you see in this article, so a detailed cost analysis of each prospective flight school is required to ensure you budget correctly.

Every student learns at different rates and you may find some students complete training faster than others, therefore, costing less. Always be sure to have a larger budget than you think you may need as running out of funds 80% into your training is heartbreaking!


Here you can find a Free Flight School Pricing Checklist & Planner so you can easily find out EXACTLY what each school charges for its training and allow you to track each training element and school to get an accurate budget:

Enter your details below to get your free School Comparison Tool and much, much more!

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Rick James

I am an aviation nut! I'm an ATP-rated helicopter pilot & former flight instructor with over 3500 hours spanning 3 countries and many different flying jobs. I love aviation and everything about it. I use these articles to pass on cool facts and information to you whether you are a pilot or just love aviation too! If you want to know more about me, just click on my picture!

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